I never met my paternal Grandfather as he died before I was born and very little was ever said about him by my Dad. The only pieces of information I had about him other than his date of birth was a photo of him in Naval Uniform and in 2003 when my Aunt Margaret WEBB died a book of postcards was discovered from him to her mother during his service in the Royal Navy. So there was little to go on by fortunately there are a number of Navy records online which some great details about his service.
I started off by looking through the census records for my Grandfather. In 1891 when he was 7 he could be found living with his parents George & Elizabeth and his brothers and sisters at Beddingham, East Sussex next to the Level Crossing which his father used to be in charge of. In 1901he was aboard the Duke of Wellington in Portsmouth as a stoker in the Royal Navy. The Duke of Wellington being a retired ship used for training purposes. When the 1911 census records finally came out he was a stoker petty officer at the Royal Naval Barracks in Chatham.
I was able to use the National Archives online to find the service Record for my Grandfather which are originally from the National Archives ADM188 Registers of Seamen’s Services 1900-1928.
The record starts off by giving details about William’s date and place of birth as well as his physical characteristics. It then continued giving a complete service record upon each ship that he worked and his rating, as well as his character. He started off as a stoker on the Duke of Wellington on February 1901 as we saw in the 1901 census and then moved to various other ships before becoming a Leading Stoker in 1907 aboard the HMS Fisgard, another training vessel. In 1908 he became Acting Stoker Petty Officer aboard the HMS Terrible before being made Stoker Petty Officer in 1911 aboard the HMS Spanker. In 1912 he became an Acting Mechanician aboard the HMS Pembroke II. Just before the outbreak of the First World War he became a Mechanician aboard the HMS Hercules. He then served aboard a number of ships during the First World War before becoming an Acting Chief Mechanician on the HMS Greenwich after it ended in 1919. He then became a Chief Mechanician aboard the HMS Argus which was an aircraft carrier converted from an Ocean Liner. He was then shore pensioned in 1922 whilst aboard the HMS Victory II.
I have started to look at where each of the ships noted on his service record was at that time to see what happened to William during the First World War. There are lots of websites that are very useful in doing this and this is now my ongoing research. His marriage certificate to his second wife, my Grand mother Sarah Bridget WHITE showed that he had put his skills learned during his Naval career to good use and was working as a Marine Engine Fitter.